By: Sean Crose
Anthony Joshua has turned to an old foe to help him train for his rematch with Andy Ruiz this Saturday in Saudi Arabia. “He said loads of stuff to me,” England’s the Daily Sun quotes Joshua as saying of former heavyweight kingpin – and opponent – Wladimir Klitschko. “Wlad was definitely ahead of the game.” Fans and analysts have noticed that Joshua’s physique has changed somewhat in the leadup to this weekend’s heavyweight title matchup. The Londoner thinks that may be the result of taking Klitschko’s advice. “He was giving me dietary and training advice,” Joshua is quoted as saying, “and that is maybe what people are talking about now when they see a difference in my body.”
It makes sense that Joshua would turn to Klitschko – or accept an offer from the Ukrainian for help. For starters, both men are extremely tall and extremely fit. In other words, they fit the bill of the modern “supersized” heavyweight. On top of that, they’re now both famous for being destructible. Ruiz’ stunning stoppage win over Joshua last June at Madison Square Garden in New York showed that, appearances aside, Joshua can be stopped. Klitschko, on the other hand, was stopped numerous times earlier in his career.
Now, it looks as if Joshua may change things up a bit, as Klitschko did before him. Under the tutelage of famed trainer Emanuel Steward, Klitschko went from a power puncher with a glass jaw to a methodical, hard hitting, not always exciting heavyweight force that dominated his division for years. The question, of course, is how much Joshua is willing to change his style in the ring. A frequent criticism of Klitschko during the second half of his career was that the heavyweight kingpin played it too safe, using his enormous size, long reach, and consistent holding tactics, to keep opponents at bay.
Although fans may not be too eager to see Joshua change from the knockout artist who rose to his feet and stopped an aging Klitschko in a 2017 thriller to a safety-first technician in line with the man he once defeated, some are suggesting that might be a smart strategy. For Joshua was done in by going for the kill against Ruiz after he dropped his opponent last spring at Madison Square Garden. Rather than crumble, Ruiz chose to aggressively engage – and it was all downhill for Joshua from there. A more conservative ring strategy might end up serving Joshua well.
If one thing is certain, it’s the fact that Joshua was enormously impacted by the loss to Ruiz. Feeling betrayed by fair weather fans and analysts who proved all too quick to write him off, the 22-1 fighter clearly feels he has a lot to prove when he slips in between the ropes to face the 33-1 Ruiz for a second time. Admitting that Klitschko is “more disciplined” than himself, the 30 year old looks eager to take things up a notch. “I now have things to prove to myself,” the Daily Star quotes him as saying. “I want to take it more seriously because I’m going to that next level.”